Are you planning a trip to Malaysia? People visit Malaysia for many reasons and you can rest assured that your trip will be worthwhile. The country is a multicultural haven known for its diverse landscapes, wildlife and ethnic groups.
Malaysia is also a budget destination where you can find cheap accommodations and even cheaper food. All things considered, Malaysia is a fascinating country and it’s a great place to visit as a first timer or an experienced traveler.
To make your trip more enjoyable, it’s essential to know the tips and tricks around the country. The following are some traveling tips for your Malaysian trip. Use them as a guide to make the most out of your visit while keeping yourself in check.
1. What to Wear
Malaysia has a tropical climate with an average temperature of 25℃. It’s usually hot and humid all year round with occasional rainfall. It also gets much colder towards the highlands with temperatures falling between 10℃ to 25℃.
For general use, pack a bunch of light clothes like cotton or linen along with some shorts, cargo pants and jeans. In case it rains, be sure to bring a jacket or raincoat. This will also come in handy if you plan to take a trip up the highlands.
Last but not least, don’t forget to pack sportswear and swimwear. Malaysia has some beautiful terrains for trekking, hiking and swimming so don’t miss out!
2. Getting Around
With the introduction of Grab (transportation app), you can get around pretty much anywhere. Of course this is most practical over a short distance as longer rides have higher fares. Nevertheless, public transport is always accessible especially within the district of Kuala Lumpur (KL).
KL is also well connected to cities outside its district and getting there is usually easy and affordable. If you’re planning to visit the East (Sabah and Sarawak), public transport is a little more sparse but still accessible nonetheless.
For interstate travel, you can always charter a flight or bus depending on your budget and schedule.
Bahasa Malaysia (BM) is the official language of Malaysia and about 60% of Malaysians have conversational English too. There’s a possibility that you might come across Malaysians who don’t speak English so it’ll be good to learn some phrases in BM.
As with other countries, learning a phrase or two can help you get around better. BM is an easy language to pick up on and you can start by learning phrases like “berapa” (how much) or “terima kasih” (thank you).
The locals will appreciate your efforts and it can also be a great way to make new friends and expand your connections.
4. Prepare for Haze
Haze is a common problem in Southeast Asia and Malaysia gets the brunt of it. This is caused by open burnings in Indonesia and it poses real health problems. Although it’s not hazy week in, week out, you should be prepared for hazy conditions.
Check the conditions before traveling and if it is hazy, plan for activities that are not physically demanding. Don’t forget your medication if you have respiratory problems and bring high quality face masks just in case.
Haze hasn’t been a problem as of late but you should always come prepared.
5. Personal Safety and Crime
Crime towards foreigners is uncommon but you should be cautious nonetheless. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and snatching can happen anytime so keep your belongings close to you. Drugs are also illegal and you should disassociate yourself from individuals or groups who sell them.
More importantly, always be on the lookout for your family as you make your way around the cities. Losing a family member (especially children) in a foreign country can be a traumatic experience.
6. Explore the Food
From chicken rice and laksa to beef noodle soup and roti canai, Malaysia is an oasis for food lovers. The plethora of unique food is a testament to Malaysia’s different ethnic groups and culture. Indulging in Malaysian food is a must and you can find good food almost anywhere.
Malaysia also made it on TasteAtlas’s list of world best cuisines! Most of the food is either influenced by Malay, Indian or Chinese cooking. You also have more exotic cuisines by indigenous ethnic groups such as the Kadazans and Ibans.
On a cautionary note, Malaysian food is generally spicy and sensitive eaters should be wary.
7. Tipping is Not Necessary
Tipping is not expected although you can if you want to. Tipping in Malaysia usually comes in the form of service charge and tax. Most food outlets charge 10% service charge and a 6% tax as part of your bill. The extra charge is then paid directly to the company and not the staff.
When it comes to drivers or hotel staff, you should always ask them before tipping. Some may find the notion of tipping as a gesture of pity but generally, most will find it as a token of appreciation. Bottom line is, tipping is not necessary in Malaysia.
8. Respect the Culture
The majority of Malaysians are fairly conservative and conformist. They are rather strict when it comes to dress codes, discretion and religion. Although these do not apply to foreigners, it’s best to respect their culture the best you can.
Intimate interactions in public or touching someone’s head are actions you should avoid. Malaysians are generally nice and they don’t usually engage in conflict. However, it’s always important to show a degree of respect towards the locals.
We hope these tips will help you in preparation for your Malaysia trip. Malaysia is a fascinating country filled with diversity and unique elements. Traveling to Malaysia is also fairly cheap and with the borders fully open, it’s now the best time to book your tickets and pack up!